About Me

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I have two kids - a girl and a boy - and live in north-central Minnesota, land of snow and ice. Well, for 9 months of the year, that is. I work full-time for a local government, and on my "free time" I enjoy cooking, baking, hanging out with my kiddos, and RELAXING.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Recipe Review

We tried a lot of new recipes over the weekend.

This is one of my goals in life: expand my "go-to" recipe base. Because, you know, meatloaf and Hamburger Helper get old. And what is in Hamburger Helper, anyway?

So anyway, of course I have a list a mile long of all the recipes I want to try, and slowly we are picking away at them. Here's what we tried since last Friday:

Cream Cheese Banana Bread with Sweet Cinnamon Topping
Pretty tasty switch up on the old run-of-the-mill banana bread. Not a lot of banana flavor, but that could be related to the sweet vs. starchy element of bananas used. The cinnamon topping was tasty. I did not like this bread warm, fresh out of the oven, and vowed not to make it again, but when I ate it the next day, cooled, it was much better. Will I make it again? Probably.

Sticky Sesame Chicken
An okay substitute for restaurant Chinese. This recipe was easy enough, but kind of time-consuming, what with the breading and frying of chicken. I used extra chicken, and doubled the sauce recipe, and it was very sweet, even when mixed with rice. One of those things that at first tastes really delicious, and then as you finish makes you feel sick. Kind of like real Chinese. And Mac 'N Cheese. I think next time I would omit some/all of the sugar in the sauce recipe, and probably also have a better chicken-to-rice ratio to cut some of the sweetness. I am also tempted to try it without breading the chicken, as that would be a major time-saver, and since I had too much chicken in my pan and had to stir it around so violently to cook it, the breading ended up mostly falling off, anyway. Will I make it again? Probably, with changes.

Bacon Cheeseburger Wraps
These were good. Of course, anything with bacon is good. Usually. But these we really enjoyed. A little different than a regular old burger, a little more time consuming, as well, but overall they were pretty tasty. I think the only change I would make is to increase the amount of sauce added to the beef. More sauce = more deliciousness. Also, the recipe says it serves four, but I used medium-size tortillas and we got 8 of them. One was plenty for me for dinner; Darren ate two. Will I make it again? Yes.

BBQ Chicken Pasta
Let me preface this by saying that I have a love affair with BBQ sauce. I could easily do without ketchup and eat only BBQ for the rest of my life. Fries, burgers, you name it, I love it with BBQ. Okay, maybe not hot dogs. But with the exception of hot dogs, BBQ rocks my world. I really enjoyed this recipe. It's not like it's a major wow-factor recipe, like something you would want to eat on a weekly basis, but it's a fairly quick and easy weeknight meal (and it's a one skillet meal!), and it gets the job done. I did enjoy it more than Darren. Easton ate it okay, and Natalie wouldn't even try it. It's not as cheap as spaghetti, but it isn't too expensive, either. Will I make it again? Yes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Why I Love...

...Target Cartwheel.

The Cartwheel app combines two of my favorite things: Target and saving money. Therefore, I love it. Obviously.

Target Cartwheel is a smartphone app that allows you to save on items you purchase at Target. One of the best things about Target Cartwheel is that you can combine the offers with manufacturer's coupons, Target coupons, regular sales, AND your Target RedCard. There are some good deals to be found here!

The only downside to Cartwheel is the amount of offers you can select at one time. When you first begin, you can only select 10 or so offers at once. As you use Cartwheel you earn "badges" which increase the number of offers you can use at once. I currently have 19 offer spots. A great feature is that you can use each offer up to six times per day. Cartwheel also has special "collection" sections, one of which is the Target Weekly Ad Double-Dip, where you can use Cartwheel to save additionally on items already on sale. Discounts range from 5% to 30%.

So far in the past couple months of using Cartwheel I have saved $67.86. That is real money. 

And, there is good news for people too smart to pay for smart phones: you can use Cartwheel online! Just select your offers and print your bar code. Your bar code never changes, so once you print it you don't have to keep printing it; just hang on to it.

You can sign up for Cartwheel on your smartphone through the app store, or here:


Tuesday, March 4, 2014


I had a bad day yesterday.

Bad days are unusual for me. I can usually "rise above" most situations, and while I might get mad at the kids, or upset about something, it usually doesn't bring me down for long. Sure, there are long days when I'm ready for the kids to go to bed, or days where I just want to spend the evening zoning out in front of the TV (read: every day), but for the most part, these days don't affect my overall mood. In general, when I have a bad day, it's because bad things happened.

Yesterday was different. And it wasn't even a sequence of events, or anything in particular that happened (although these things did contribute to the bad day), that caused my day to be bad. It just was.

It's hard to explain, but it was like instead of projecting emotions out, it was like I internalized everything, all the negative things, large and small, that happened during the day.

After the kids went to bed, I told Darren I had had a bad day and just wanted to go to sleep. He asked what had happened. I said, "Everything." What I meant was, life. Life happened, and it was just too much for me yesterday. I just couldn't even deal with the day anymore.

It was the strangest feeling, to be so upset about nothing in particular, and everything at once.

I'm glad yesterday is over.

Monday, March 3, 2014

my little chatterbox

Easton turned 13 months old at the end of February.

He sure is a talker! He talks way more than Natalie did at his age. I'm pretty sure the only thing she said was "moo." And actually, she might not have even said that yet.

Easton loves to talk! His favorite words are "ball," "bye-bye," and "night-night." He also says:

-baa (like a sheep)

I think he says a few more, but it's hard to think of them on the spot. He is getting so big everyday, and I'm sure will be saying so many more words within the next month! Last night I told him, "night-night" and he waved his little hand bye-bye and told me back, "night-night!" Too cute!